Biblical Archaeology Review 14:2, March/April 1988

Burial Headrest as a Return to the Womb—A Reevaluation

By Gabriel Barkay

In “The Peculiar Headrests for the Dead in First Temple Times,” BAR 13:04, Professor Othmar Keel takes issue with an earlier BAR article in which Amos Kloner and I discussed these stone headrests carved on top of burial benches (“Jerusalem Tombs from the Days of the First Temple,” BAR 12:02). Professor Keel, relying on evidence from Mesopotamia, interprets these headrests as follows:

“I believe these headrests represent the womb of the earth from which the body came at birth and to whose motherly warmth and care the deceased hoped to return in death.”

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